In a special edition of The Daily SearchCast, Danny Sullivan finds himself at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California where he takes the opportunity to interview Matt Cutts, a chief software engineer at Google and also quite famous as a liaison between the search engine Google and webmasters looking to market their sites.
You can listen to the audio interview via archived podcast but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights of what was discussed.
Regarding the current issue with Big Daddy, many people have been complaining that their pages have been disappeared. Matt’s states that reciprocal link exchange participants are not getting crawled as much. Google is getting very good at identifying reciprocal linking schemes and making sure sites participating in them don’t rank well. Also if you have few inbound links, expect sparse crawling.
In fact, in a blog post today, matt makes the following comment, “Some folks that were doing a lot of reciprocal links might see less crawling. If your site has very few links where you’d be on the fringe of the crawl, then it’s relatively normal that changes in the crawl may change how much of your site we crawl. And if you’ve got an affiliate site, it makes sense to think about the amount of value-add that your site provides; you want to provide a reason why users would prefer your site.”
Danny inquired about the rumors going around that Google might be running out of space or in a storage crisis. Matt affirms that they certainly have enough machines to do their job which is crawling, indexing, scoring, ranking, etc. They have enough that they are not going to start dropping documents out of the index or anything like that.
Next topic – how does Google treat expired domains?
Matt said that no penalties are applied if domain changes hand because that sort of thing happens all the time (acquisitions, domain purchases, etc.). They do look for deceptive practices but he didn’t say much beyond that including avoiding giving any direct answer to Danny’s question regarding if all link popularity is wiped clean when domain expires.
Danny then moves on to deal with some of the questions Search Watch Forum members asked about in a thread entitles “Dear Matt Cutts, I Want To Know About”. The first one dealt with concern of whether Google is still deliver relevant SERPs or not. Matt thinks relevancy is just fine. They do solicit feedback from time to time on different subjects which in course helps them to fine tune things.
I don’t remember quite where this came from but Matt did make a statement to the fact that web search as a way to gain traffic has devalued as of late because there are so many other ways to generate traffic including Google Co-op, Google Base, Digg, and MySpace to name a few examples.
Danny asks Matt if there is any reward for domains that have been around for a long time? Matt said that is part of the secret sauce. In other words he gave no clear cut answer.
Another thing that was mentioned both in the interview and in the live chat room was to not use free web hosts. They have been banned completely. I’ve never used them anyway. Branding is just too important.
Danny then began to talk about Google’s competitors – Yahoo and Microsoft. Matt feels that when engines compete, it helps improve the fight to stay relevant and provide the best search experience. He also says it can be good to have some diversity in search results.
On doing SEO different for each engine, Matt feels that what works well for one engine works well for all. I feel the same way. In the live chat, Detlev Johnson states that a good strategy mix is equal to paid inclusion for Yahoo!, links for Google and textbook SEO for MSN.
Finally on keyword density, Matt’s opinion is to not really worry about it. There are so many additional factors besides worrying about the density of keywords that exist on any given page.
I’ve only covered some of the highlights that I was able to gleam from listening to the show live and participating in the live chat at the same time. If you missed it, be sure to listen to the archived podcast.